Universe

National Solar Observatory Mysteriously Closed As Geomagnetic Storm Looms


Source: Zero Hedge

The National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico has been closed since last Thursday.

ABC-7 Monday spoke with Shari Lifson, who is with AURA, the company that co-manages the Observatory with NMSU.

“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time. We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. It was our decision to evacuate the facility.”

Lifson told ABC 7 there is no time-table for the Observatory to be re-opened.

ABC-7 also reached out to the FBI, but did not hear back from the federal agency in time for deadline. The FBI did speak with local law enforcement about the length of the observatory closure.

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on. We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why.

The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say. But for the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there.

There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”

The FBI did not tell Sheriff House the reason for the closure. Sheriff Benny House did tell ABC 7 that his local law enforcement did not have anything to do with either the observatory closure.

For the conspiracy-minded, Sunspot is a mere 130 miles from Roswell, New Mexico, and about 90 miles from the White Sands Missile Range. Established in 1958, the observatory predates the unincorporated area in the Sacramento Mountains that was named for it.

All of which would be odd enough, but as SHTFplan.com’s Mac Slavo details below, the observatory is closed just as a massive hole has opened up in the Sun’s corona, which means we’re officially on watch for a geomagnetic storm.  Auroras will be likely across much of North America as the sun heads into a solar minimum.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a storm watch for a G2-level solar storm on September 11.

That’s a moderate storm on the 5-level scale, with G5 being the highest, according to Science Alert.  We’re currently heading into a solar minimum, the least active period of the Sun’s 11-year cycle. That means there will be a much lower sunspot, coronal mass ejection, and solar flare activity.

If you are one of those who loves seeing the aurora borealis or the “Northern Lights,” have your camera handy, because it could be a beautiful show. As the holes open up in the Sun’s corona, although these are cooler, less dense regions of plasma in the Sun’s atmosphere, they are also more dramatic with open magnetic fields. These open regions allow the solar winds to escape the Sun’s surface more easily, blowing electromagnetic radiation into space at high speeds. If Earth is in the way of those solar winds, we could experience some intense outcomes.

While the effects of this wind will be slightly stronger than those of a G1 storm, according to Science Alert, they’ll probably pass most of us by. High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms due to surges from geomagnetically induced currents, and longer storms can cause transformer damage, but it looks like this storm will be a relatively short one. According to the British Met Office, the solar winds could travel at speeds of up to 600 kilometers per second (372 miles per second) in the next two days.

Spacecraft operations may be affected as the storm impedes GPS, which means corrections may need to be issued by ground control. And high-frequency radio propagation can fade at high latitudes.

The biggest effect will probably be the light show since the solar winds are responsible for auroras. As they blow in from space, they interact with charged particles (mainly protons and electrons) in our magnetosphere.

These charged particles then rain into the ionosphere and travel along the planet’s magnetic field lines to the poles, where interactions with other particles, such as oxygen and nitrogen, manifest as dancing lights in the sky. –Science Alert

According to a map released by NOAA, the auroras resulting from this storm will likely be visible from Alaska, as well as the states across the United States’s Northern border with Canada and as far south as Iowa and Illinois. There will also be aurora australis visible from Antarctica.

* * *

Just in case you were blowing off the tin-foil-hat views of the observatory closure, we note that all these solar/space cams down at the same time:


National Solar Observatory Mysteriously Closed For Security Reasons

When you walk up to a restaurant door and a sign on it says the place was shut down by the government, you probably suspect there was a health problem and are grateful for the implied warning. What would you think if you walked up to the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot (yep, that’s the town’s real name), New Mexico, and saw a similar sign that the place had been shut down for “security reasons”? Would you be more concerned of you knew it had been closed for a week with no explanation? How about if you found out the nearby post office (the “neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night” people) was closed for the same reason? Worried yet?

“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time. We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. It was our decision to evacuate the facility.”

The Dunn Solar Telescope at the observatory

Local ABC station KVIA reported the September 6th shutdownof the observatory on the following day after the above statement was given by Shari Lifson, a spokesperson for the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) which operates the facility. As of this writing, KVIA reports there has been no additional information released despite requests by Otero County Sheriff Benny House, who gave his own report to the Alamogordo Daily News:

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on. We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say. But for the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there. There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”

For the conspiracy-minded, Sunspot is a mere 130 miles from Roswell, New Mexico, and about 90 miles from the White Sands Missile Range. Established in 1958, the observatory predates the unincorporated area in the Sacramento Mountains that was named for it. Employees, when they were there, had to go to nearby Cloudcroft for food and gas on New Mexico State Road 6563, named for the brightest wavelength of hydrogen emission, H-alpha. The land once belonged to the Air Force but is now managed by the National Forest Service. The telescope is (or was) open to the public on weekends.

In 2018, the observatory was taken over by New Mexico State University. However, Deputy House is uncertain that’s who he was dealing with when the FBI called them in.

“They’re not federal employees, It may be somebody who threatened one of their workers. If that’s the case, why didn’t call us and let us deal with it. These guys are regular workers that work for this company. I don’t know why the FBI would get involved so quick and not tell us anything.”

After seeing there was no obvious threat, House sent his officers back to the station. What about the local post office? Rod Spurgeon, a spokesman with the USPS, gave this statement:

“Right now, what we’re told is that they’ve temporarily evacuated the area. We haven’t been told why or when that expires.”

What happened at the Sunspot Observatory to cause a mysterious evacuation there and at the post office that brought in the FBI? While Sheriff House thinks it was a worker incident or an external threat, why keep the places shut down indefinitely, especially since there was no reported crime, shooting or deaths?

Did someone at the observatory ‘observe’ something they shouldn’t have? Did someone in Sunspot perhaps figure out why there haven’t been any sunspots for a while? Did they try to sneak the information out through the local post office? Just asking for a friend.

For now, let’s keep a well-shaded eye on Sunspot.

About the Author

Paul Seaburn is one of the most prolific writers at Mysterious Universe. He’s written for TV shows such as “The Tonight Show”, “Politically Incorrect” and an award-winning children’s program. He’s been published in “The New York Times” and “Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn’t always have to be serious.

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “National Solar Observatory Mysteriously Closed As Geomagnetic Storm Looms

  1. Pingback: 6 More Solar Observatories closed and This could be the reason! | Deus Nexus

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